Just when you’re ready to sit down with a good book or cook a meal or search for something in the attic, the light bulb burns out. Frustrating. Is there anything you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen? Well, all bulbs will burn out eventually, but here are some things you can do.

  1. Turn the light off when you are not using it. This may seem a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often people leave a room and forget or do not bother to turn off the light.
  2. This is counter intuitive to the above but avoid turning the lights on and off too frequently. Turning on the light sends a burst of electricity through the filament, which could break it, which is why bulbs often burn out when you turn them on.
  3. Check voltage. If the voltage in your home is too high, bulbs will burn brighter but also burn out much faster. An electrician can advise you on this.
  4. Fixture vibration. If a fixture such as a ceiling fan is vibrating (due to an unbalanced blade), that vibration jiggles the filament and shortens its life. Make sure there is no jiggling or use a rough surface bulb that can tolerate vibrations.
  5. Fix depressed socket tabs. At the bottom of the light bulb is a little metal tab that delivers the current to the bulb. If the tab is depressed, it can’t make contact with the bulb. To fix this, unplug the bulb and use a wooden popsicle stick to ben the tab up about 1/8 inch. Then plug it back in.
  6. Tighten connections. Loose connections can shorten the life of a bulb. Make sure the bulb is screwed in tightly. Also make sure wires are connected snugly to screw terminals.
  7. Use LED bulbs. Finally, while all the other things are important, this may be the most important thing you can do to minimize having to change bulbs. ,These are the longest lasting bulbs, more efficient, and do not contain mercury.
  8. Use the right wattage. Most fixtures have a label stating maximum watt usage. IF the bulb you use exceeds that, it will burn out quickly. Note that CFL and LED bulbs require less wattage, so this should be less of a problem with these bulbs.
  9. Use a dimmer, but the right one. Dimmers obviously will extend the life of the bulb. But older dimmer switches designed for incandescent lights may not work with CFL or LED bulbs. If you are using CFL or LED bulbs, make sure the dimmer is compatible.